Five Dead In Fire At Serum Institute, Covishield Facility Unaffected
File image of vaccine vials entering a conveyor of a machine at Serum Institute of India Ltd. pharmaceutical plant in Pune. (Photographer Sanjit Das/Bloomberg)

Five Dead In Fire At Serum Institute, Covishield Facility Unaffected

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Five persons died and nine were evacuated from a building in the Serum Institute of India's Manjari premises in Pune after a fire broke out at the facility on Thursday, police said.

Pune Mayor Murlidhar Mohol said it appears the five persons who died in the fire were working on the building floor. Fire officials recovered the bodies during an inspection, he said.

The Manjari facility is where the Covishield vaccine used in the nationwide inoculation drive against the pandemic is made. The building where the fire broke out is part of the under-construction site of the Serum facility and is one kilometre from the Covishield manufacturing unit, sources said.

Covishield vaccine production won't be hit due to the fire, Serum Institute of India Chief Executive Officer Adar Poonawalla said.

Maharashtra Deputy Chief Minister Ajit Pawar said the state government has ordered a probe into the blaze.

The fire, which broke out at 2:45 p.m. on the fourth and fifth floors of the SEZ 3 building in the Serum Institute premises, was brought under control in two hours, police said.

Viral visuals from the site showed smoke billowing out from the Serum Institute facility.

Chief Fire Officer Prashant Ranpise said cooling work has commenced at the spot. Fifteen water tankers were pressed into action and the fire was brought under control around 4:30 p.m., he said.

"The cause of the fire is yet to be ascertained. Furniture, wiring, cabins were gutted. No major machinery or instruments were stored on the floors where the fire broke out," he said.

"I have taken information from the Pune Municipal Corporation about the incident and instructed locals officials to carry out a detailed probe into the fire," Ajit Pawar said.

Chief Minister Uddhav Thackeray told reporters that as per initial information, an electrical fault caused the fire.

"As per initial information, the fire did not erupt at the unit where the Covid-19 vaccine is being produced, but in the unit where the BCG vaccine is produced," Thackeray said.

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